NYCC ’13: NYCC Team Q&A answers questions on badges, crowding, more

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2013 10 13 16.00.16 300x225 NYCC 13: NYCC Team Q&A answers questions on badges, crowding, more

Brian Stephenson, Mike Armstrong, Kim Muller, Lance Fensterman

Every year, New York Comic Con changes and grows, and they get most of it right, and some of it wrong.  Every year, during the last hour of the show, Lance Fensterman and his senior team sit down and take questions from the audience regarding how well the show went, what concerns attendees have, and even taking suggestions on how to make the show a better place.

Joining Lance (Global Vice President of ReedPOP) were Brian Stephenson (Brand Marketing Director), Mike Armstrong (Sales Manager), and Kim Muller (Content and Talent Director).So… here are the various issues raised, in chronological order, paraphrased:

Will the new badge system continue?

Yes.  Lance mentioned that on Saturday, from 9AM until roughly Noon, approximately 55,000 attendees tapped in.  By not needing to check badges once inside Javits, traffic seemed to move much more smoothly.

While waiting for some panels, some people were waiting in line for panels which would not commence for many hours.  (Line camping.)  Could this be fixed?

Like hall camping, it’s not an easy thing to fix.  ReedPOP did make adjustments with the large panel rooms up front in Hall 1A, moving the information booth further back on Friday.

Could ReedPOP add a third stage?  (To complement 1D and 1E.)

Yes.  Lance then asked the crowd, if there was a shuttle bus to, say, the Ziegfeld Theater for an event, would people use it?  YES!

Could ReedPOP run a contest for fan art, possibly for publication on the program cover?

Yes and No.  Yes, a contest sounds like a great idea.  No, the covers are usually claimed by Marvel or DC for promotion.

Could video games be placed in their own area?

Mike Armstrong answered this one.  Video games are placed up front to generate excitement for attendees.  The placement also directs much of the noise out into the concourse, and not into other nearby booths.

Could ReedPOP mark elevators so that users know which floors they go to?

Yes.

Might ReedPOP get rid of the queue hall and use that space for something else?

The lines would be kept outside, where weather is a concern.  Tent rental would be costly.

During the morning opening of the stage for The Walking Dead, there was a mad dash for seats, causing injury.

Lance apologized to the attendee, and will place better security staff at that hall.

Kim Muller asked if attendees enjoyed the DJ keeping the queue crowd entertained.  Most did.

The queue hall chutes were too wide, and some line jumping was noticed.

Not an easy fix.

There needs to be a better way of working the line.  There were lots of empty seats at some of the main stage events.

A runner is needed to check capacity.

There was some concern over seats reserved for medical badges.  Some seats might have been used by other people.

20 seats are reserved for medical badge holders.  The signage for those seats is not perfect, but they will work to correct it.  (One attendee suggested seating of a different color instead of using signs or slip covers.

The Family Room was a nice idea, but sometimes became crowded as adults visited certain panels.

This was a new experiment, and wildly successful.  Consideration will be given to moving “adult-friendly” kids events outside of the space.

Can something be done about the traffic jams caused by photographers taking cosplay photos in the aisles and elsewhere?

Yes, to a degree.  C2E2 has placed large backdrops at that show to encourage photography away from high traffic areas.  A similar setup was planned for the southern corner, but was scuttled when DC Comics used the space for their Superman exhibit.  There are many blank walls where this could be done.  One attendee suggested that franchises and genre meetups be scheduled for group photos.  Otherwise, there will always be traffic jams in the aisles.

With the new RFID badges, could ReedPOP replicate the Fast Pass system at Disney theme parks?

This is problematic as people would wait in line to make a reservation, instead of waiting in line to get into a panel.  Does ReedPOP turn it into a lottery, creating some resentment?

Could anime panels get more space?  Panels were only held in one small panel room.

Every program track had space issues, and ReedPOP works hard trying to figure out the best configuration for rooms in 1A.

Lance mentioned that there was some thought to spreading events out into the city.

Does ReedPOP keep track of which panels are popular?

Yes.  They count how many people are in line.  How many people attended each panel.  How many were turned away.

Last year, elevators were turned off to deal with congestion.  That didn’t happen much this year.  Why?

Unlike other venues, the elevators in Javits cannot be reversed.  Sometimes the elevator will be turned off so that it syncs with the other escalator.  Attendees were universal in the idea of a “No Stop Zone” at the escalator landings.  (Really, this should be common sense.  Me, I just keep moving, and if I have to shove my way through, I just tell the offended parties that there are more people coming up right behind me, and I’m trying to avoid a major accident.)

The Press Area seemed to have too much empty space, and was difficult to reach.

There were elevators (although I was hesitant to use them, afraid I’d be delivered somewhere I should not be).

Please publicize the opening of the 7 train as a convenient way to get to Javits.

ReedPOP will, when the MTA finishes and opens the station.   (2015 is the expected date.)

The food trucks were great!  Could there be more?

The Javits has an exclusive food vendor.  ReedPOP was able to convince the convention center that, due to many eateries inside being closed (such as those near 3E), that two trucks were required to feed ReedPOP employees.  They will try to keep that two truck exemption in place for next year!

Could the “End of Line” place holders also be given a sign which would state “Line Capped”?  And could the lines be signed so attendees know which panel the line is for?

Yes.  Yes.

At the main stage panels, there was a rush to the microphone.  Could that be bettered managed?

Yes.  Perhaps attendees submit questions in advance, and the moderator selects the question.  (This would eliminate the “can I get a hug?” comments.  Or perhaps they are submitted via Twitter.

Could the autographing listings include a photo, as was seen in the Artist Alley listings?

Yes.

While the NYCC app updated events, notifications were not sent.  Could this be done.

Yes.

There were gaps in the main stage waiting lines, allowing for people to sneak in.

Better security will be in place.

Could the VIP/Ultimate Access passes be segregated by fan interests?  Anime, comics, TV/movies…

Yes!

Were the balconies in 1-D used?

Yes.  Sometimes it is hard to see people seated in that section.

Could ReedPOP send out a confirmation email when the RFID badge is activated online?

Yes.  Next year!

Could ReedPOP give a better clarification about the professional panels scheduled for Thursday before the sales floor opens?

Yes.  Since non-professional attendees are not permitted inside Javits until the opening, they would be unable to attend the panels anyway.  Lance did agree that there should be better notification and advisories when listing the events online.

Brian then asked, did anyone notice the new signage?  Some did.  (I did not.)

Wrapping up the panel, Lance Fensterman reiterated that the motto of ReedPOP is “fans first”, and they try their best to make each show better.

He then stated,

“This is the best effing [sic] comic con ever!”

…and I would agree.  Each has something new and improved, and no matter what goes wrong, the ReedPOP crew works hard to correct mistakes, and improve on what went right.

Random surveys will be sent out to attendees.  You can also contact Team NYCC via the ReedPOP website.  The Con is scheduled next year for October 9-12, 2014.

nycc logo 2013 hi 450x218 NYCC 13: NYCC Team Q&A answers questions on badges, crowding, more

 

Comments

  1. ProjectTintagel says:

    I heard tell of several incidents between the the Red Shirted “Javits Security” people and attendees. My friend reported he witnessed one of these guys call several people waiting to get seats at the “Representaiton in Comics” panel “Hopeless Idiots.”

    While waiting for Neil Tyson’s signing, the line was randomly split in two by one of these Red Shirts. After splitting us, the NYCC personnel asked him to put us back into place! His solution? Send us to the back of the line. When we mentioned that we’d been waiting for an hour and half and wouldn’t move, he got very aggressive, even yelling in my face. I never once raised my voice and asked him why we should go to the back of the line when it was his move that messed up the line. He was very pissy and dismissive. Finally people in the line “adopted” us back into the line – “They were with us” – which embarassed the security guard. A Walter White cosplayer slipped into Character and shouted “You genisuses better get your act together!” The guard left and never returned, except once when a NYCC guy grabbed him and walked him to another line. The NYCC personnel did seem confused as they split us back into three lines for some unclear reason. (They cited Fire Safety, but the situation they created was much worse than what they were trying to fix.)

    I also witnessed a uniformed police officer yell at one of the “bouncer” guys that followed Stan Lee around. They were shoving people out of the way pretty aggressively and the police officer turned to him and said that if he shoved another person he’d arrest him on the spot. This bouncer guy looked pissed but didn’t say much.

    It really seemed that the Javits people expect the Comic-Con people to be push overs and wimps. When anyone showed an once of challenge, they got immediately aggressive and tried to shout people down. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Especially because I was with a group of FDNY guys in one line and they chuckled when ever someone called a line a “Fire Hazard” because a single file line of people is a lot safer than a 3-abreast cluster of people in a rope off area.

  2. John Shableski says:

    ProjectTintagel does a great job of articulating issues and situations. I can say that there are times when security staff and support personnel can come unglued. When you take great notes like these and pass them on to the management team, something can be done to resolve it. A show of this scale takes a lot of resources to manage. Hopefully, a lot of folks were able to have an otherwise great experience.
    I was amazed at it all ran. The Block, Artist Alley…it was great to see so much going on.
    I know there were some hassles and issues but on the whole, it was a better show than last year and next year will be an improvement over this one.
    Congrats to ReedPop!

  3. Torsten Adair says:
  4. An information booth at the big open space at the start of aisle 1300 would have been greatly helpful. I was the first small press booth on that aisle (1337), and if I’d charged people $2 for everyone who asked for directions to where panels were, where other exhibitors and the bathrooms and the ATMs were, and where Artists Alley was located, I would’ve made back my booth investment by the end of Saturday.

    (And yes, everyone at my booth helped give answers, using the con map to point folks in the right direction.)

  5. ProjectTintagel says:

    By spelling out these issues, I don’t mean to imply that it was a terrible or mismanaged. Indeed, the NYCC Personnel were actually pretty good. They were very good at keeping Artist Alley well managed. And the aisles moved fairly well. The problems seem to stem largely from two major problems. The reluctance by ReedPop to clear out panel rooms and Javits-sponsored security personnel. I guarntee you if they required people to clear rooms and requeue for panels, a lot of the issues that were encountered would have gone away. Again, “Fire Safety” is the term they hide behind for *not* clearing panels, but this really doesn’t make sense. A pro/press line for some panels might not be unwarranted either.

    A major problem with the signing lines was that they allowed people to line up nearly 3 hours before some of these people showed up. Indeed, the Neil deGrasse Tyson line was lined up outside of the “gates” because DMC’s signing was still going on it. Some firm rules about queueing would go a long way. Would it solve it all? No. But a lot of the improvements made from last year made Saturday flow really well, despite the number of people.

  6. ProjectTintagel says:

    That and that creepy film crew should be banned from future conventions. That is unacceptable.

  7. Torsten Adair says:

    Lance asked the crowd about clearing panel rooms.

    The main reason: fewer panels, since it would take longer. In the smaller 1A rooms, that could be done within the 15-minute period between panels, especially if ReedPOP security strongly encouraged everyone to not rush the dias, but to talk to the panelists outside.

    In 1-D and 1-E, with 2000+ seating, I don’t know how easy that is to do. 1-E doesn’t have a good exit like 1-D has with 1-C.

    I’ve brainstormed ideas here on what could be done. The Theater at Madison Square Garden (as seen on the NBA Draft), is located nearby (33rd and Seventh) and seats 5500 people.
    Get a company to sponsor the shuttle, and run it back and forth every 30 minutes. Clear the theater three times a day, and run the lines upstairs through the arena concourse. Or sell “leases”… you buy a reserved seat for the day.

  8. I don’t know what the process is by which they determine what media outlets get passes, but they really need to clamp down on the numbers. The shitty cameramen and interviewers that just want to freak gaze/ look at the titties of cosplayers really serve no purpose and just clog up the place.

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    ANY asshat should be removed.

    If you’ve search Google News today, you will see that almost every established media outlet has a “cosplay” gallery from NYCC. The photographers aren’t gazing, but the readers probably are.

    NYCC doesn’t need the press. They sell out their tickets. But… the exhibitors… they come to NYCC because it is the media mecca. THEY need the media to promote their message. No media, no internet buzz, which makes marketing more difficult.

  10. I somewhat agree, but they need the right kind of press. I don’t see how taking pictures of cosplayers helps the dude selling swords.

  11. great con and con staff.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Surprise, NYCC might actually end up being the biggest comics convention in North America after attendance figures are finalized for 2013. The convention was expected to pull in over 130,000 people, which would put it squarely within SDCC-territory.  Yet despite the enormous number of people, crowd management was kept pretty much in control, even during the weekend. Part of the reason for this was due to NYCC’s badge system, which employed an RFID chip (with some highly publicized controversy) and allowed attendees to “tap” in and out of the convention quickly and easily, and not having to check badges once inside the convention center. [...]

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